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Cate Brett Accepts Law Comission Appointment

Tuesday 19 August, 2008

Cate Brett Accepts Law Comission Appointment

Cate Honore Brett has resigned from the editorship of the Sunday Star-Times to take up a role with the Law Commission.

Brett, who has a long-standing interest in media law, has been hired as a senior policy and media adviser to assist the commission on a range of projects including the review of aspects of New Zealand privacy law and the review of the regulatory framework for the sale and supply of liquor.

Fairfax Media chief executive officer Joan Withers said: “Cate has been an outstanding leader for the Sunday Star-Times at a time of intense competition.

“She achieved much during her editorship and her recent refresh of the newspaper is now paying dividends in terms of readership growth.

“On a personal level I have found her excellent to work with and I have great respect for her integrity and talent.

“She leaves with our best wishes. This new role is an opportunity for her to further develop her considerable skills and we hope she will return to the company one day.”

The editorship of the Sunday Star-Times will be advertised and applications will be sought from both within and beyond Fairfax Media.

Law Commission President Sir Geoffrey Palmer said the commission was increasingly asked to tackle projects which required a multi-disciplinary approach and he was delighted to have someone with Brett’s skill set on staff.

“We have a trio of projects that require the skills that Cate Brett has – the review of privacy law, the review of name suppression law and the sale of liquor project. This involves extensive community consultation.”

Sir Geoffrey said projects such as the review of the liquor laws crossed the boundaries of several portfolios and would involve a significant degree of public consultation.

“As Sir Ivor Richardson, the retired President of the Court of Appeal once said ‘the Law Commission is the statutory equivalent of a semi-permanent Royal Commission with a roving function’.”

He said Brett’s 20 year journalistic experience combined with her understanding of media law will provide the commission with a vital new dimension.

A former editor of The Weekend Press and deputy editor of The Press, Brett was appointed editor of the Star-Times in 2003. The paper has been awarded Best Weekly Newspaper at the Qantas Media Awards three times in that period.

Brett is currently researching the impact of new media on free speech, including suppression and contempt of court.

She will join the commission in November.


Bio Synopsis

Cate Honoré Brett is editor of New Zealand’s national broadsheet newspaper, Fairfax Media owned, Sunday Star-Times. Appointed to the role in November 2003, she is currently the only woman editor of a metropolitan newspaper in an industry where women now dominate the reporting ranks but few make it through to management level.

Cate graduated with distinction from Canterbury University’s post-graduate journalism school two decades ago. Since then she has become a multiple award-winning journalist working for a range of media companies, including evening and morning newspapers and the current affairs magazine North & South.

Throughout her working career she has retained a strong academic interest in media and the law. In 1999 she was awarded a grant from the New Zealand Law Foundation to research the interaction between the criminal justice system and the media in the Scott Watson Sounds murder case. The resulting monograph, Control of the Crime Story: Free Speech vs. Fair Trial was published by Canterbury University Press in 2001. At present she is working “spasmodically” towards a Masters degree focusing on the challenge the internet presents to mainstream media and the courts.


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